How to Revive a Dying Anthurium Plant

Why is my anthurium dying?

As a passionate gardener, my journey growing Anthuriums has been both rewarding and challenging as they are one of my favorite houseplants, but they can be tricky to care for! Is your anthurium dying, and you are not sure why? To save your anthurium, we must understand how they grow in the wild so we can emulate these conditions in our homes to keep our plants happy.

From experience, a dying anthurium is usually caused by root rot due to overwatering and poor drainage. Anthurium are epiphytes that need to grow in well-aerated, porous potting mediums. If your anthurium is planted in regular potting soil, it is likely to develop root rot, which causes it to droop and the leaves to turn yellow.

Another common reason for Anthurium leaves turning brown that I come across is due to too much direct sunlight and low humidity.

To revive your dying anthurium, it is important to replicate the conditions of its natural habitat with a temperature range of 65°F and 72°F (18°C to 22°C), high humidity, bright indirect light, and planted in a well-draining, aerated potting mix.

With a few adjustments, we should be able to save your dying plant! In this article, I share my personal experiences of reviving a dying anthurium…detailing the most common ailments and how I addressed them…

My Anthurium Leaves are Drooping, Turning Yellow, and Dying…

  • Symptoms. Yellowing leaves with an overall drooping, dying appearance.
  • Causes. Overwatering, slow-draining soils, and poor drainage.

Overwatering is the most common reason I see for anthuriums dying. Why? Because anthuriums are different from most houseplants…

Anthuriums are native to tropical rainforests in Central America, where they grow as epiphytes which means they grow on trees in humid environments rather than in the soil on the forest floor.

Their roots absorb moisture and nutrients from the humid air around them rather than drawing water up from the soil.

Therefore, your anthurium’s roots are not adapted to growing in regular potting soil, which is too dense and retains too much water for the anthurium to tolerate, causing the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

If there is too much moisture around the roots, then the excess water excludes oxygen from the soil, which prevents root respiration and, therefore, prevents the roots from uptaking the moisture and nutrients that the anthurium needs.

Too much moisture from overwatering and slow draining, dense soil also promotes the conditions for root rot which turns the leaves yellow, droop, and causes the anthurium to die back.

This is why our anthuriums need to be grown in a soilless potting medium such as pine bark based potting mediums for orchids (which are also epiphytes and require similar conditions) as this replicates the growing conditions of the anthurium’s native environment, providing enough moisture and humidity around the roots which also ensuring the areaeted porous structure that allows for excellent drainage.

It is worth me highlighting that excess moisture around the anthurium’s roots can be because of:

  • Overwatering (anthuriums need consistent moisture during Spring and Summer if they are grown in the right potting medium and require the top inch of potting medium to dry before watering in the Winter).
  • Slow-draining soil.
  • Pots without drainage holes in their base.
  • Saucers and decorative outer pots underneath the anthurium’s pot cause water to pool around the base of the pot after watering.

How to Save it?

  • The first step is to reduce the frequency of how often you water the anthurium and let the soil dry out. According to the professional growers that I spoke to when used to work in a commercial greenhouse, as a general rule, anthurium plants should be watered often enough to keep the potting soil slightly moist during active growth (in the Spring and Summer) and let the top inch of the potting medium dry between bouts of watering in the Winter. Monitor the soil’s moisture with a moisture meter or feel it with your finger regularly to detect moisture and establish the right watering schedule for your anthurium in your climate.
  • Re-pot the anthurium into a well-draining, pine bark-based potting medium made for orchids. I personally recommend pine bark-based potting mediums as my favorite potting mix, as they create an aerated structure and good drainage that emulates the anthurium’s native environment to prevent root rot.
  • When you are repotting the anthurium, inspect the roots for any signs of disease. Healthy Anthurium roots appear light-colored and feel firm, whereas diseased roots appear dark brown and soft with a mushy texture and foul smell.
  • Snip back any diseased-looking roots back to healthy growth. You need to use a sterilized pair of pruners or scissors and cut rotting roots back to healthy growth or to the base of the plant. This prevents the rot from spreading. I must emphasize that it is essential to wipe the blades of the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each snip to sterilize the blades and prevent the spreading of fungal pathogens from diseased roots to otherwise healthy growth.
  • Wash your pot with disinfectant before replanting the anthurium, as the pot can harbor fungal disease pathogens and reinfect the plant if unwashed. I give mine a good soak in hot water and use washing-up liquid.
  • Locate the anthurium in bright, indirect light and increase the humidity by misting the leaves to mitigate transplant shock; you can also place your anthurium in your bathroom, as I have, which has a much higher level of humidity compared to other rooms of our houses.

Whether or not the anthurium recovers depends on how long the roots were damp, compacted soil, and the extent of the root rot.

If the roots have no visible signs of rot (soft roots that break off easily, with a mushy texture), then just re-pot the anthurium in a new orchid potting medium, mist the leaves, and my plant recover with consistent care.

For a good visual guide to dealing with root rot, watch this helpful YouTube video:

My Anthurium is Drooping and Turning Yellow (Due to Temperature Stress)

Anthurium can also turn yellow and droop if the temperature is too low. As I mentioned previously, Anthurium plants are native to tropical forests in Central America and experience consistently warm temperatures all year round.

The optimal temperature for anthurium plants is between 65°F and 72°F (18°C to 22°C) during the day time with a slight drop in temperature at night, as long as it stays above 60°F (15°C).

Whilst anthuriums can tolerate the occasional drop in temperature below 60°F, if the temperature is consistently lower than 60°F or perhaps there is a drastic drop in temperature (due to an open door or window, as in my case), then my plant reacted by drooping and turning yellow.

Keep the anthurium out of the path of air conditioning or any other draughts that can lower the ambient temperature. This was a significant problem when I lived in New York as I found the air con upset my anthurium in the summer as did indoor heating in the Winter!

How to Revive it?

To revive a drooping, yellowing anthurium, replicate the conditions of its native environment by moving the anthurium to a room that is consistently warm, with bright indirect and high humidity.

My best tip: For me, this meant moving my anthurium to my bathroom as it had frosted glass which meant the room was nice and bright, but strong direct sunlight was diffused, as it would be in its natural habitat. The naturally steamy atmosphere helped the leaves look their best.

Water the potting medium so that it is moist during active growth and dries slightly between bouts of watering whilst it is dormant in Winter.

This creates the optimal conditions for anthurium to recover and thrive. With consistent care, the anthurium should recover from its drooping appearance, and new leaves should grow in the Spring and Summer.

Cut back any yellow leaves that do not recover back to their base once you can see new growth starting to emerge, and your anthurium should be much happier.

My Anthurium is Drooping and Turning Brown?

  • Symptoms. Drooping leaves and stems that may turn brown and yellow.
  • Causes. Too much direct sunlight, drought stress, temperature stress, and low humidity.

Anthurium naturally grows under a forest canopy which protects their leaves from the harsh sunlight in their native range.

Therefore, their leaves are very sensitive to direct sunlight, which dries them out and scorches the leaves brown and crispy.

A classic mistake I see people make is to place their anthurium on a window sill in direct sunlight.

Therefore it is always best to grow anthurium in bright, indirect light as this meets the energy requirements for the plant for active growth and to promote flowering without scorching the leaves.

However, conversely, I find too much shade can also result in poor growth and drooping leaves.

It should be noted that anthuriums are tropical plants that thrive in humid conditions. Anthuriums often need humidity as high as 40%, whereas the humidity indoors is often as low as 10% as it was where I used to live.

This discrepancy in humidity saps moisture from the anthurium leaves, causing them to turn brown (initially at the margins) and droop downwards.

Brown drooping anthurium leaves can also indicate underwatering. Anthuriums need their potting medium to be consistently moist during active growth and can droop if the roots do not have enough access to water.

I should tell you that temperature stress can also be a contributing factor. If the temperature is significantly above 72°F (22°C) then this can dry out the potting medium too quickly for the anthurium to tolerate and result in drooping stems and browning leaves.

High temperatures can also be a result of indoor heating, which may increase the temperature uncomfortably high and simultaneously dry the air, which saps moisture from the leaves, causing them to turn brown.

How to Revive it?

  • Always locate anthuriums in bright, indirect light rather than full sunlight to avoid the leaves turning brown. Avoid deep shade, as this reduces flowering. Whilst I keep mine in the bathroom behind frosted glass, you can also keep your anthurium on a window behind a sheer curtain which I find also does a great job of diffusing the sunlight.
  • Water your plant as often as required to keep the potting medium moist (but not saturated) during active growth in the Spring and Summer. This ensures that the roots have access to the water they require to avoid drooping. Reduce watering in Winter so that the top inch of the potting medium dries slightly as the plant is dormant, which reduces the demand for moisture. I feel the soil with my finger to detect when the top inch is dry, as I find this is more reliable than any other method.
  • Increase the humidity around the anthurium leaves. It is important to emulate the humid conditions of the anthurium’s native environment to prevent the leaves from drooping and turning brown. I personally live in a colder climate and need indoor heating in Winter, which decreases the humidity.
  • I personally find the best way to prevent my anthurium leaves from turning brown is to use a plant humidifier and group my other houseplants with a preference for humidity together to create a humid micro-climate. If you are in a less arid environment then misting the leaves occasionally may be enough to prevent the leaves from turning brown.
  • Keep your anthurium on the other side of the room from any sources of heat and out of the path of any air currents such as forced air or air conditioning. Try to maintain the optimal temperature range of around 65°F and 72°F (18°C to 22°C) during the day and avoid the temperature dropping cooler than 60°F (15°C) at night.

Anthurium leaves droop and turns brown when they are in conditions that are too far contrary to their natural environment. Once you adjust the conditions so that they are more favorable, I find the anthurium should show signs of recovery in the following weeks.

However, I must caution you that once the leaves have turned brown, they do not turn green again. Therefore it is important to wait until you see new growth from the anthurium in the Spring and Summer before cutting any brown leaves back to the base.

The anthurium is much more resilient to the stress of pruning in the Spring during active growth.

Anthurium Dying After Repotting

The reason for an anthurium dying after repotting is usually because they are planted in the wrong kind of potting soil, they are overpotted, or due to shock at the change in conditions.

It should be noted that you should only repot anthurium in the Spring. This is because the all houseplants are more resilient in early Spring just before active growth.

If you repot the anthurium in the Fall or Winter then the roots are often sat in the new potting medium whilst the plant is dormant, so the roots do not get a chance to establish properly. This increases the risk of root rot which turns the leaves yellow. (I know, a lot of people make this mistake!)

If you repot the anthurium in the Summer, this is likely to shock the plant and interfere with flowering.

I must emphasize how important it is to re-pot anthurium plants in pots that are only an inch or so wider in diameter than their previous pot.

If you repot the anthurium to a much larger pot, then it is likely to dry out much more slowly, which can promote the conditions for root rot.

Repotting the anthurium into the wrong type of potting soil that retains too much moisture and lacks the aerated, porous structure that the anthurium prefers can also be the cause of the dying anthurium after repotting, so always use my preferred potting mix of pine bark based orchid potting mix when repotting your anthurium.

Key Takeaways:

  • A dying anthurium is usually because of overwatering and slow-draining soils. Anthurium needs aerated, porous potting mediums that drain efficiently. Normal potting soil dries too slowly and lacks the preferred structure for the anthurium roots, resulting in root rot and yellow leaves.
  • Anthurium leaves turn brown if the humidity is too low. Typically, anthuriums need humidity as high as 40%. Dry air indoors saps moisture from the leaves, causing them to turn brown at the margins and droop.
  • Anthuriums can die after repotting if they are overpotted or repotting at the wrong time of year. Anthuriums should always be repotted in Spring. Repotting at other times of the year often results in root rot.
  • To revive a dying anthurium, recreate the conditions of its native environment by increasing the humidity to 40%, maintain a temperature range of 65°F and 72°F (18°C to 22°C), and keep the potting medium moist during active growth in the Spring and Summer.

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